Thursday, September 24, 2015

Ready in Columbus

This week the Tour Finals event is in Columbus, Ohio, at the Ohio State University Scarlet Course. It is an amazing golf course, and I am ready to tackle it. My preparation has been on point again this week, and I am feeling great about everything. I wrote two messages to myself myself on my gloves this week. One is a very simple reminder of my plan and says "confidence, freedom, trust." The other says "use today to be better tomorrow." That doesn't mean that I don't want to be focused on the moment; rather, it is my way of reminding myself that whether I have an off day or win the tournament by ten shots, I still need be focused on steady improvement moving forward. Golf is unpredictable, and you can never say for certain what will happen on any given day, but I can say with near certainty that I am going to continue to improve and be very successful over the long haul. For now, I'm ready to play with confidence, freedom, and trust and have a great tournament in Columbus. Thank you for following and please keep it here for updates through the tournament!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Motivated and Ready To Be Better Mentally

This one is tough to swallow. I have had a great week of work, and I felt very prepared to play well on a course I really like, but I posted scores of 70 and 74 to miss the cut by one. I let myself down by reverting to some old, poor thought patterns and that is what makes this particularly painful. This week's result, and the shortcomings that let to it, have prompted me to do some serious introspection. I am still really disappointed, and this one really hurts, but I will be stronger mentally and better than ever because of this week. 

Here is the truth: I still face severe cut anxiety. I have focused strongly on my mental game, and I really feel like my routine is healthy and powerful, but I still let anxiety from the cut line dictate my mood on the golf course sometimes. This week, I played some of the best golf of my life in the middle of my opening round. I had battled back from a rough start over the first four holes and was four-under-par through 16 holes. I didn't do anything terribly wrong, but I bogeyed the last two holes of that first round. Given the great golf that I was playing, it should have been no big deal, but after that poor finish, I immediately allowed thoughts of the cut line to dominate my mind. When I teed it up on Friday, I still felt prepared physically to play well, but I definitely had anxiety in my thoughts. I was executing my shots very well, but a misjudged lie on the third hole led to a bogey, and that brought the anxiety to the front of my mind. I stayed committed to my pre-shot routine and still hit a lot of quality shots, but rather than playing with confidence, freedom, and trust, I played with fear for the rest of the day. That fear caused me to feel uncomfortable over some big shots and kept me from delivering the great skills I have worked so hard to develop. It is very hard for me to admit these mental shortcomings, but from this place of honesty with myself, I can make a great plan and move forward to be better. 

Here is another truth: The success of my golf career is never dependent upon any single week. I have long held the belief that steady improvement will ultimately lead to the achievement of all of my goals in golf. Therefore, the thing that I fear the most -- a missed cut -- is really nothing to fear at all. Neither my unspoken goal of steady improvement nor any of my written goals are impacted by a missed cut. But, I have allowed a missed cut to symbolize failure to me. In reality, the only way I can fail at golf is if I stop improving. My success will be defined by a long-term process of continuing to hone my mental and physical skills. I know that I have a great plan in place for long-term success, and I am not going to let the cut line control me. 

Whether I am near the cut line on the first two days, coming down the stretch with a chance to win, or battling to climb from the middle of the pack, I want to approach my golf shots with the optimism that comes from knowing I am on a successful path. To help me in times when negativity and fear are trying to overtake my thoughts, I am going to keep a reminder in my golf bag of all the reasons I can hit every shot with confidence, freedom, and trust. I have worked way too hard and am on way too good of a trajectory to let fear of anything control my thoughts on the golf course. 

I am still disappointed with what happened this week. I think I might have needed this reminder, though. I still believe in my plan. I am going to continue to prepare well and to play with confidence, freedom, and trust. The only difference is that I will have a reminder in my golf bag to make sure that I do so even when things seem difficult. I still believe that all of my goals are attainable, and I know that I will continue to improve. A missed cut is a set back. It does stink. But, it is not something to be afraid of, and it will not derail my progress. 

I believe that great things are in store in the very near future, and I know that great things are in store in the long-term. Thank you very much for believing in me and supporting my career. Please keep it here to enjoy the progress with me. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

North Carolina Round 1

I had a wild ride in the first round of this week's Tour Finals event. My opening tee shot of the tournament hooked violently to the left of the tenth fairway, and though it stayed in bounds, I was forced to play my second shot laterally. I chopped my way up the hole and eventually one-putted for a double-bogey. I had to execute a great recovery shot on the next hole after another poor tee shot. Then, on my fourth hole of the day, I again drove the ball errantly into a hazard and advanced my second shot about two yards. I saved a good bogey there and then flipped a switch. My game has felt fantastic in my practice this week, and after shaking off some early nerves, it looked beautiful on Thursday as well. I played holes 15 through seven (I started on the back nine) in six under par and really felt that all areas of my game were clicking. I finished my round on a down note, but that doesn't change the way I feel about game. On the eighth hole, I made a mental error which led to a bogey, and then a pulled drive and a poor chip resulted in a closing bogey on the ninth. I opened my round poorly and closed it in disappointing fashion, but on the middle 12 holes, I reaped the benefits of my hard work. My swing was clicking. I was smashing the ball confidently down the fairway off of the tee, delivering precise iron shots, and putting very well. My game is in good shape, and my plan is working. I'm going to keep following it: prepare well and play with confidence, freedom, and trust. My preparation has been on point this week, so I'm excited to continue to play with freedom on the course. I tee off at 12:58 on Friday, and I'm ready to get back out there and get it grooving again. Thank you for following me, and please keep it here for more updates.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Wrap-Up from Indiana

I had a great week in Ft. Wayne, Indiana to begin the Tour Finals. I put together three solid rounds on Friday (69), Saturday (68), and Sunday (69) to climb the leaderboard everyday after a cold-putting but steady opening round of 72. My even-par first round had me just outside the cut line heading into Friday, but my consistent play over the next three days netted a T-10th place finish. I'm very pleased with the way I followed my plan last week, and that finish is a great start toward achieving my goal for the Finals. 

Although my play was very consistent over the final 54 holes, there is still plenty of room for improvement. I gave myself a mental challenge on Friday. After playing the first 11 holes bogey-free and 4-under-par, I hit a great drive and had a good chance to go for the par-5, 12th hole in two. Unfortunately, I hit a poor 3-wood that rattled around in trees right of the green and ended up bouncing into the hazard short and left of the green. I thought I got a good break because my ball was playable, but I hit my next shot deeper into the hazard and ended up making a double bogey. When I saw my third shot land in the water, my head began to spin a little bit, and I must admit, I immediately thought about the cut. However, I am really proud of the way I responded, and despite feeling some nerves for the next several holes, I remained focused and trusted my routine. I ended up playing the last six holes one-under-par to keep myself in the tournament heading into the weekend. I made another double bogey on Sunday. The par 3, 11th is a tough hole, and I hit my tee shot into the bunker, but that was actually a pretty good miss given hole location. I recently made a slight change to my bunker technique, and my results had been great throughout the week in Indiana. However, I think I got a little bit too excited with this bunker shot. I thought I could make it but ended up chunking it badly and left it in the sand trap. It was painful to make the double bogey in the middle of what felt like a final round charge, but once again, I responded very well and birdied the next hole on my way to playing my last seven in 2-under-par. I definitely made some mistakes in this tournament, but it was very encouraging to see my mind and my game recover well. 

After the week in Indiana, I feel like my game is trending strongly in the right direction. I feel like I am driving the ball as solidly as I ever have, and though my iron play was still a little bit erratic, I am starting to hit them very well. In addition to that, my short game was very sharp, and for the first time in several weeks, I started to putt the ball with a lot of confidence. The only area of my game that was disappointing was my wedge play, but even that was great in practice, so I know it's going to be dialed in soon. After a few frustrating weeks to end the regular season, this past week was a great way of getting back on track for the Finals and the upcoming Fall Series. 

As Alicia and I travel from Indiana to North Carolina, the thing that has me feeling the best about the way I opened the Finals is the way I followed my plan. Though my goal for the Finals is big--WIN!--my plan is simple: prepare well and play with confidence, freedom, and trust. I had a great week of work in Indiana. I was very efficient, and I completed my Full Fitness Routine and my Full Practice Schedule. 

When my practice journal looks like this, it usually means I have prepared well. As for the mental aspect of my plan, I am not going to lie. There were times when I felt nervous, uptight, and results-oriented out on the course this week. But, I was able to stay focused, and for the most part, I trusted my routine on every shot. My formula works, and I am excited to keep it up moving forward. 

The next stop in the Finals is River Run Country Club in Davidson, NC (just north of Charlotte). It is another golf course that I really like, and I am excited to have another great week. Thank you for following me and keep it here for more good stuff!!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Round 1 in Indiana

I'm done with my first round at the Hotel Fitness Championsip in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I posted an even-par round of 72 in beautiful scoring conditions. I am definitely not thrilled with that outcome, but I am very pleased with much of what happened. 

My preparation for this event has been excellent, and I felt good standing on the tenth tee for my 7:51 a.m. starting time, but I was a bit anxious at the beginning of the day. A couple of very squirrely shots in my first two holes had me working hard early, but I quickly settled down and started to hit the ball much better. I cost myself a couple of shots early in the round with short-range misses on the greens. My putter has been cold for the last several weeks, and that is very frustrating. I saw it start to turn around today, though. I was never able to get any putts to fall in the opening round, but I was very happy with the way I rolled the ball over the final twelve holes on Thursday. So, after a rocky start, I settled down and saw some very encouraging things from my ball-striking, and, for the first time in a while, I felt some very confident and solid putts leave my putter-face. In addition to that, I feel like my attitude and mental game were very good. All of the pieces are coming together, and I am ready to play well. 

I tee it up at 12:51 p.m. on Friday. The weather forecast predicts rain and possible storms, but I am ready for whatever happens. My game is good, my mind is right, and my plan is going to work. That means I'm going to continue to prepare well and play with confidence, freedom, and trust. And I'm going to get my putter rolling, too! Good stuff is coming. 

I'm going back to the course to "prepare well" this evening. This is the view I will have:
Life is good!

Thank you for following me and keep it here for more!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Great Week Off; Ready for the Finals

I had a fantastic break from competition this week. I was able to enjoy a little down time with the comforts of home, but I did a lot of focused practice as well. I know that I have been swinging well, but after a few weeks of frustrating tournament play, it was very nice to have a great week of work. Alicia and I are on our way to Ft. Wayne, Indiana for the start of the Tour Finals, and I am feeling ready. 

My Outcome Goal for the finals is very clear: I want to be the leading money winner for these four events. The formula for achieving that goal is to prepare well and play with confidence, freedom, and trust. Last week I completed a Full Fitness Routine and Full Practice Schedule, which helps me feel prepared. I want to stay committed to my Process Goals during the busy month ahead. However, great preparation doesn't do me much good if I put too much pressure on myself and tighten up on the course. The reason I work so hard is so I can stay in the present and enjoy the game I love while I'm in the middle of competition. My  mental game is one of my greatest strengths, and I am going to have the discipline to go through my routine and arrive at trust on every shot. That routine breeds confidence and allows me to play with freedom. This combination of good preparation and a sound mental game will lead to me achieving my outcome goal. 

I am excited to get a great week in Ft. Wayne started tomorrow morning. Thank you very much for following me, and keep it here for reports from the tournament. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Productive Week; Gearing Up

Last week ended with the celebration of a major accomplishment. Alicia and I traveled home from Oregon with a PGA Tour Card in hand for the 2015-2016 season. I allowed myself to enjoy that feeling for a little while (and it felt GREAT), but I am still highly motivated moving forward. I'm definitely proud of the season that I've had so far, but I know I can keep getting better, and I'm ready.

I sat down with my Goal Board on Tuesday morning and thought a little bit about the past five weeks. At times I have put a little bit too much pressure on myself and have been trying too hard on the course. I'm still really happy with my Process Goals and my commitment to them, but I wanted to write down a couple of new thoughts and one big Outcome Goal to guide me though the Tour Finals. Here's what is going to drive me: 

To "Win the Tour Finals" means that I want to be the leading money winner over the next four events. Achieving that goal comes with a couple of big prizes. First of all, it earns a spot in The Players Championship field, and, more importantly, it gains the title of "fully-exempt" status on Tour. That term is a little misleading because it doesn't guarantee entry into every tour event, but it does mean that a player sits ahead of the Tour-graduates category and is not subject to re-shuffles. Those are both enticing prizes, and I am motivated to earn them. 

I have not made this lofty goal to add pressure to myself over the next four weeks. Rather, I have made it to remind myself of what I think is very possible when I prepare well and play with a great attitude. And that is exactly what I am going to do. I have already had a great week of work, and I am excited to continue that heading into the Finals, which begin next week. 

I have a great job, and I'm excited to keep getting better at it. Who has a better office than me?

Thank you for following me! Keep it here for a week-off wrap-up report in a couple days.

New Blog Site

Hi everyone! Thank you for continuing to try to keep up with me. As you might have noticed, I've not been updating this blog at all late...